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Bright Green Field

by Squid

Released May 7, 2021 via Warp Records

Reviewed May 18, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Narrator (72%), Pamphlets (45%), G.S.K. (38%)

The hotly anticipated debut from Squid—one of the UK’s brightest stars in a thriving post-punk scene—is everything to be desired and more. Foundationally sound, Bright Green Field has all the markings of a post-punk classic: driving basslines, sharp and punchy guitar work, and keen avant-garde sensibilities. The latter of these traits is what differentiates Squid from their peers, with the Brighton/London five-piece bearing their love for krautrock shamelessly. The famed motorik drumbeat is a frequent mainstay in the band’s collection, but the variations of dizzying synths and strong but subtle basslines make every take fresh whenever they implement this krautrock staple. And as drummer/vocalist Ollie Judge delivers equally jittery and intense vocal performances—often interspersed with spoken word—Bright Green Field is nothing less than pure blistering chaos at every turn. Yet, it is all choreographed, all intentional, and never lacking precision. As these jazzier stylings of post-punk filter through the intros and outros of most tracks, the noisy and rabid midsections are as unpredictable as they are expected. The never-ending cycle of chaos to calmness and back again doesn’t end here, as the band’s dense, cryptic, and often ominous lyrics are just as puzzling. Within this confusion lies the true markings of an album years ahead of its time and an instantaneous classic. – Dominick (10/10)

Released on the prestigious Warp Records label, Bright Green Field has a lot of hype to live up to when measured to the standard of the label and Squid's previous output. 2019’s Town Centre EP, along with the infectious single “Houseplants” and a handful of other pieces, garnered plenty of well-deserved attention from the music world. Squid's blend of danceable rhythms, funk-fueled flare, humour, and off-kiltered approach make them quite an enigmatic whirlwind of musical endeavours. An air of wise musicality far beyond the age of the individual members hovers over the group of young musicians. Throwing a few curve balls into the mix—the warped four-minute outro to “Boy Racers,” for example—shows us that their eyes often focus on a more expansive sound and aren't afraid of taking risks to accomplish it. Not nearly enough acts have this necessary knowing. Where they take their sound moving forward, both sonically and stylistically, will surely be a thing of beauty to watch unfurl. Bright Green Field feels like it could be the band’s fifth studio album, which serves as an ode to just how impeccable and well put together it is for a debut record. – Peter (9/10)

The art punk revival—featuring emphasised embellishments of kraut-, math-, jazz-, and post-rock—has been nothing short of a real thrill. It’s truly fascinating to see a genre expand like this right in front of my eyes. Squid cements this re-established sound with their first full-length album, but it feels like a mere thicket in this bright green field of lush, fresh grass. Comparing Squid to contemporaries like black midi and Black Country, New Road is an inevitable—nay, necessary—part of reviewing this record. Squid doesn’t quite make the same mark. The vocals on Bright Green Field are less ferocious and haughtier, for one. The lyrics and delivery attempt at a profundity that isn’t quite there, so their pretension comes off without any self-awareness, like on “Documentary Filmmaker.” Many tracks are quite drawn out, and with the exceptions of “Pamphlets,” and “Narrator,” they overstay their welcome. This makes the album linger for longer than it needs to, like a comforting friend you’re reluctant to shoo off for some alone time. Nevertheless, the performances all around are exquisite, detailed, dense, and rarely fail to keep your attention. I did zone out during the latter portions of “Boy Racers” and “Global Groove” on my first listen, but the majority of their runtimes exhibit luxurious production, potent lyrics, and near-perfect chemistry between each member. Due to the black midi, New Road fatigue, it’s impossible for me to idolise this, but in isolation, it is still really, really good. – Cam (8.3/10)

Squid has been building steam over the past few years by dropping some of the most exciting and innovative punk music of the past decade. Seeing as they hadn’t released much music prior to this year—and what they had dropped was generally unbelievably good—their debut album Bright Green Field was highly anticipated by fans and music critics alike. And, for the most part, they delivered. They’ve certainly found their own style, and they stick to it. The best moments on here, such as “Narrator” and “Pamphlets,” feature loud, aggressive vocals and groovy yet frantic instrumentals with hard-hitting lyrics. There are quite a few outstanding moments, but at times their style can feel a bit stale, as they don’t particularly do much to switch it up. The few times they do, it unfortunately sounds like they’re trying a bit too hard to come off as experimental—such as the drawn out, 4-minute outro of “Boy Racers.” Still, Bright Green Field captures much of what makes Squid such a unique and interesting band, while still leaving room for improvement. – Hadley (8/10)

Dominick: 10/10 | Peter: 9/10 | Jared: 8.5/10 | Cam: 8.3/10

Alan: 8.2/10 | DeVán: 8/10 | Hadley: 8/10 | Pax: 8/10


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